I have few distinct memories of those earliest days as a mother — even just two years later, they’ve all blended together into a smoky haze of early-early mornings, nursing and Scandal marathons at 2 a.m., sweet snuggles with a sleepy babe who fit perfectly into the crux of my arm and a veritable parade of generous friends and family wielding casseroles and salads and homemade bread in exchange for their own snuggles with baby (memories that I know will suddenly become reality again for us in several months, gulp).
One thing we never got much of was soup, and I suppose that’s because we were heading into summertime and all that was on everyone’s minds was grilled meat and fresh vegetables and wedges of juicy watermelon (of which I ate PLENTY in those earliest days). But I know that if I was having a newborn in the fall, in these comfy-cozy months, I would want soup — with grilled cheese, of course.
That’s why I made this delightful bowl of yums for Cynthia of Two Red Bowls and our collective internet celebration of her baby bowl, a.k.a. B3, a.k.a. Luke, a.k.a. the cutest button of a baby you ever did see.
We were hoping to surprise her with this mega-list of foods in bowls (get it?) before the babe was born, but it seems she beat us to it! No matter — it gave me the chance to “ooh” and “ahh” over the photos of her baby while also enjoying this tomato grilled cheese soup. The best combination, if you ask me.
This soup is simple and satisfying and it’s exactly the kind of soup you want to pair with grilled cheese (thus the title). It’s not that the flavor of grilled cheese itself is imparted into the soup, but rather that the soup is the soulmate to grilled cheese, and vice versa. You cannot have one without the other in this situation, and that’s just a pro tip from me to you.
You’ll start out with butter and onions (the best smell in the world), then add fire-roasted tomatoes, fresh thyme and bay leaf and at the end, just before blending it all together into a smooth puree, you’ll swirl in a splash of heavy cream. It’s not enough to make the soup too decadent or indulgent, but rather to give it just that much more of a silkiness in texture. One dip of a gooey grilled cheese sandwich into this bowlful of creamy tomato goodness and you’ll understand why this is the perfect food for anyone, really — but especially for a mama in her earliest days of motherhood, when what she needs most is a satisfying meal and all the time she can get to snuggle her baby. At least, my hazy memories lend me to think that’s the case.
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 28-oz cans fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ½ cup heavy cream
- In large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat, melt butter. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes until onion is softened and lightly browned. Add a generous pinch of salt and a dash of pepper. Add tomato paste and stir into onions. Cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly until tomato paste is darkened in color. Add crushed tomatoes, broth, thyme, bay leaf and sugar. Bring to simmer; add more salt and pepper to taste.
- Simmer uncovered 35 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until flavors meld and soup thickens ever so slightly. Remove from heat; stir in cream. Remove thyme and bay leaf. Use immersion blender (or regular high-speed blender, in batches) to blend soup until smooth.
- Serve with gooey, buttery grilled cheese sandwiches cut into soldiers for maximum dipping ability.